Sexual and reproductive health

Promoting family planning

Contraceptive technology

Male contraception : results of Phase III trial

National Research Institute for Family Planning, Beijing
Researchers at the National Research Institute for Family Planning (NRIFP), Beijing, China.

The June 2009 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism includes the report of the results of a Phase III efficacy and safety trial of a long-acting androgen for male contraception. This multicentre study was supported by RHR/HRP to assess the potential of monthly injections of testosterone undecanoate to provide an effective, safe and reversible contraceptive method for men.

The study recruited 1045 couples from ten centres in China with a view to broaden contraceptive choice for couples and expand the choices for men from condoms, withdrawal and vasectomy. The androgen works by dramatically reducing sperm production.

While about 5% of men did not respond adequately to the treatment, the regimen was highly effective in those who did respond, with a failure rate similar to that of combined oral contraceptives. Side effects included weight gain and acne; no major safety issues were reported. Once the hormones were discontinued, the men's sperm production returned to normal. The investigators concluded that the monthly regimen provided safe, effective, reversible and reliable contraception in a high proportion of healthy fertile Chinese men. The article has been e-published ahead of print and has stimulated a significant amount of media attention.